Nearly seventeen years after Dr. Wayne Leibel wrote his first monthly cichlid column for Tropical Fish Hobbyist (T.F.H.) magazine, “Wayne’s New World,” he has finished his last regular article for TFH with the September 2010 issue. I guess now there is no reason for me to keep buying T.F.H., as many times the only section that made it worthwhile was precisely his interesting cichlid articles. Not because other columns in the magazine are not equally valuable and interesting, they are, but because of the focus of Wayne’s column.
As he explains in his farewell, many groundbreaking discoveries in the Cichlid Word came up during the time while he wrote his column, and those were made public by Wayne. For example, that Heros severus was found to be a mouth-brooding cichlid, a fact discovered by Rainer Stawikowski, and Apistogramma barlowi was found to a mouthbrooder Apistogramma. I have to say I was shocked when I learned that, especially if you consider that thirty years ago we all thought that the mouthbrooder cichlids were just found in Africa and the Middle East.
With a new title for his T.F.H. column, "Cichlidophiles," Wayne stopped limiting himself to New World cichlids and started covering basically every cichlid topic available, which made his column even more interesting. But the time came when Wayne had to look into new horizons and I will sorely miss his column.
I fondly remember back in the 1980s when I first learned about Wayne, after his article “Heckel's Thread-Finned Acara Acarichthys heckelii (Mueller and Troschel 1848)” was published in Freshwater and Marine Aquarium magazine (F.A.M.A.) in January 1984. At that time I became fascinated by this author whom I had never heard of before, and who was so knowledgeable and wrote so nicely about cichlids. Some other no less interesting articles by Wayne came in the coming months, including “Of Pickled Fish and Ichthyological Sleuthing: A Primer for the Advanced Aquarist,” a two-part article, with the first part published in the January 1985 issue of F.A.M.A. It was a really inspiring article.
Wayne was then made Editor of "Buntbarsche Bulletin," the journal of the American Cichlid Association, and remained in that volunteer position for seven years, creating in that period nearly 50 issues of the magazine. Being Editor is a demanding job, talk about Wayne’s love for the hobby! His activities however were not limited to being Editor, he also founded the South American Cichlid Study group within that organization. I can think of just a handful of people with such a passion for Cichlids and the distribution of the knowledge about them.
But it was during the last American Cichlid Association convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin [USA] that Wayne got a distinction that I am only surprised had not been given to him before. He was made the eighth recipient of the "Guy D. Jordan Retrospective Fellow" award, the maximum distinction the ACA confers in recognition of significant contributions to the cichlid hobby and lifetime achievements in advancing knowledge of Cichlidae. The stature of some of the other recipients of the awards tells you of the importance of this distinction; to name just three: Ad Konings, Ross Socolof, and George Barlow. Before this, in 1993, Wayne had already been recognized as Fellow of the American Cichlid Association.
But Wayne’s new project is not less interesting and valuable than the later, as he was just appointed as the new Editor of Cichlid News magazine, surely the best specialized cichlid magazine in print in the English language (of course you know which is the best considering the Internet, don’t you?). Cichlid News has been around since 1992, with 76 issues published to date. Today, Cichlid News gathers breakthrough contributions from many of the world’s foremost cichlid experts. Who better than Wayne to lead this path!!!